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Students exposed to cybercriminals during online exams

For many months, malicious hackers were able to gain access to students’ computers and use their webcam via software program Proctorio. It is not clear whether this actually occurred.

Cybersecurity company Computest examined the software, which is used by many higher education institutions, at the request of RTL Nieuws. The leak has now been fixed.

To detect exam fraud, Proctorio can access the camera and microphone on students’ computers. In this way, it is possible to check whether they often look away from the screen, potentially to cheat. Proctorio also has full access to the websites that students visit and checks what files they download during an exam.

Recordings

A lack of “essential security” meant that it was easy for criminals to abuse the broad rights of the software, reports RTL. They could make recordings with the webcam and access online accounts such as e-mail, payment services and online wallets. On 18 June, Computest reported the vulnerability to Proctorio and the leak was fixed a week later.

Court case

In the summer, the UvA student council lost – on appeal – a case about the use of Proctorio. In June 2021, the court ruled that the UvA was allowed to use proctoring because, in the view of the Court of Appeal, it was impossible for large numbers of students to enter university buildings for exams. The verdict might be different after the coronavirus crisis.

Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

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